I love fresh air, and so does Allegra, and we both love having the breeze come in through the open screened windows. Unfortunately, window screens can be an invitation for disaster if they’re not secure enough to prevent your indoor cat from getting out. Even worse, if you live on a higher floor, falls through screens can cause serious injury and even death.
Keeping your cats safe while they can still enjoy fresh air only takes a little bit of forethought and maybe some modifications to your existing screens.
Your screens are only as safe as their frames
Go around your house and check all your screens. Are the frames seated properly? Are there any large gaps that a kitty might be able to work a paw through to loosen a screen?
Test all of your screens by pushing hard against them. You might be surprised how easily some screens pop out. Even if there’s just some slight give, they’re probably not secure enough to prevent a spooked or enthusiastic kitty from busting through it. It doesn’t take much to startle or excite some cats: a sudden noise from inside or outside the house, a bird or squirrel, or another cat in the home trying to displace the window watcher. I’ve heard of cats who were startled by something and pushed out the screen while launching themselves off the window sill into the room.
Consider pet safe screens
If your screens seem flimsy to you, they probably are. Consider getting sturdier, pet safe screens. Many of these can be custom cut and installed without having to modify your existing windows or screens. For detailed suggestions, read Bernadette Kazmarski’s comprehensive article Windows, Screens and Cats.
Don’t open your windows all the way
The easiest solution, and the one I chose, is to just not open your windows more than a couple of inches. It limits air flow, so this may not be an option for everyone, especially if you don’t have air conditioning. If your windows allow, open them from the top rather than the bottom so your cats can’t easily get to the opening, but make sure the windows are locked into position so they can’t accidentally close if your cat manages to get her head or a paw through the opening.
If you have any tips for safe screens, share them in a comment.